Today was the first of many site visits, and it did not disappoint. The Mantero Silk company is one of the various silk companies nestled in the greater Lake Como region and supplies materials to many big name brands such as Gucci, Louie Vuitton, and Channel. We began our day touring their factory which employs 500 people and serves as their main hub for production. We were lucky enough to see a wide variety of positions all presented in the factory. We started by walking through the creative sector where there were hundreds of employees on computers designing and perfecting the latest trends in silk fashion. Next, we moved to the factory portion, where silk is cut and printed to fit the proportions of the numerous SKU’s that Mantero produces. We noted that factories in Italy seem to have significantly less regulation than those of the USA; none of the workers wore any protective equipment and we weren’t asked to sign any safety waivers despite the many dangerous production projects that took place. We then moved to the archives where we saw designs not only by Mantero but even by other companies dating back to the 19th century. Seeing these timeless designs was my favorite part of the tour. Our guide removed a tattered book from a shelf of similar looking artifacts and opened it to reveal hundreds of authentic designs dating back hundreds of years. Lastly, we saw both production methods in action. Our guide explained that today, Mantero prints both digitally and manually. I was interested to learn that digital printing only reached a comparable level within the last decade. However, today they are equal. Seeing the “LV” logo shift across the convier belts was an immense reminder of the true elegance of this company. Our tour finished with a trip to the souvenir shop which housed many different products made by Mantero. This brought the trip full circle to complete the full supply chain. We saw the design, production, and eventual sales of many of Mantero’s products all in one day.
Next, we travelled to the town of Como itself. Nestled at the base of the alps, Como is home to some of the most beautiful villas I have ever seen all with magnificent architecture and breathtaking views. As we walked along the cobblestone stone streets of the town, I was reminded how different America and Italy are. No cars speed along the streets honking at pedestrians and fellow cars. People simply stroll around the small-town shopping and admiring the quaint beauty. After our tour, we enjoyed a long and delicious pizza lunch and then received a walking tour of the town. Unfortunately, the rain and cold weather inhibited my full enjoyment of the sites, but the town’s charm endured. We then embarked on a boat tour of the lake which, in my opinion, was improved by the unpleasant weather. As we sped across Lake Como, admiring the mountains and villas, the rain whipped around the boat, creating an authentic sailing experience. Likewise, the mist hugging the mountains gave the entire scene a mystical undertone and added to the organic splendor. Today proved both educational and breathtaking; the Milan Starbucks and Armani Museum tomorrow should do the same!!